California Mulling Changes To Zero-Emissions Mandate Owing To Credit Glut

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Tesla Model 3 greenChanges to California’s zero-emissions vehicle mandate credit system may be in the works, owing to the glut of zero-emissions credits circulating thanks to Tesla and others, according to recent reports. Specifically, the point is that it may become harder for EV leaders (like Tesla Motors) to sell ZEV credits.

Unsurprisingly, given how much has been invested by many in meeting the terms of the system, a number of prominent figures have commented on the possibility rather bluntly. Tesla executive Diarmuid O’Connell was quoted as saying that the idea was “extremely stupid,” and the Honda executive Robert Bienenfeld was quoted as saying that the idea was “bizarre.”

Speculation is that the approaching surge in compelling plug-in electric vehicles or hybrids is a driver behind the considerations of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Plug-in and conventional hybrid offerings in California are expected to rise from 58 models today to 92 models by the year 2018 — a big increase — so why not tighten the mandate?

Autoblog provides some context, noting that “under the California zero-emissions mandate, which was first broached in 1990, 15.4% of new vehicles sold in the state must be zero-emissions by 2025. That said, some automakers may be able to apply for credits with as little as 6% of their California-sold vehicles being either electric vehicles or powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.”

Continuing: “Additionally, Tesla has taken 373,000 reservations for its $35,000 Model 3 and recently moved up its goal of producing 500,000 vehicles a year to 2018 from 2020. Tesla sold almost 51,000 vehicles worldwide last year and earned about $169 million in zero-emissions credits from California.”

CARB spokesman Stanley Young stated in a recent email to Autoblog: “It is too early to say what the Board will do regarding ZEV credits or any other element of the Zero Emission Vehicle Regulation as we are currently in the middle of finalizing the Technical Assessment Report in preparation for discussions with automakers, other stakeholders, and the public at large, under the auspices of the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the adopted standards. We need to complete that step before staff can make a recommendation for the Board’s consideration later this year on any of the aspects of the review which includes GHG limits, the LEVIII PM limit, and the ZEV requirements.”

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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